Finland is quickly approaching municipality elections. As we know, these elections will be very different from previous ones, because of the Covid19 epidemic. This means that the traditional ways of campaigning in market squares and meeting voters face to face is limited. Politicians need to find other ways of reaching potential voters. The Finns Party is the most active party in both traditional campaigning and in social media.
Social media is full of censorship and it can be a real challenge to state one’s opinion. In terms of democracy, it is crucial that all of the social media companies refrain from arbitrary censorship during these municipality elections. If the social media platforms continue to ban political candidates of reaching potential voters via social media due to “wrong opinion”, they are doing real damage to democracy. Covid19 restrictions will seriously limit outdoor events. This means that the main way of campaigning is taking place in social media. I hope that people will respect different opinions and allow the democratic process to go smoothly.
Some experts have recently suggested that the municipality election should be postponed due to the pandemic. Where were these so-called experts last year, when there was plenty of time to demand the postponing of the elections? It's a fact that the Finns Party is the most popular party in Finland right now. It is clear, that some other parties are afraid that we will win the elections. People will go to the grocery store, use public transportation etc. regardless of Covid19 restrictions. People are allowed to go to a grocery store with hundreds of other clients at the same time. Why would it then suddenly be a problem for them to go to the voting booth? I asked in a written question pointed to the ministry of Justice Anna-Maja Henriksson about the health security of the upcoming elections one month ago. The minister recently confirmed that the ministry of Justice is responsible for organizing the elections also in times of pandemic. The ministry will be sending guidelines regarding the organization of the elections to regional election authorities and collaborate with the Finnish Institute of Health and Wellfare to ensure that voting is safe during the pandemic.
The municipality elections should not be postponed due to the pandemic. The ministry of Justice is responsible for organizing the elections, but the Finnish Government has the responsibility to ensure that the Covid19 restrictions will facilitate voting in different places, and not only in traditional voting areas. I think that people should have the opportunity to vote in a grocery store, because they will be open even if many other places are closed due to the pandemic. By expanding the availability of voting areas, there would also be less spreading of the virus.
I would like to thank my political assistant Aleksi Niskanen for translating this column to English.
Jukka Mäkynen is a Finnish politician currently serving in the Parliament of Finland, since 2019, for the Finns Party at the Vaasa constituency.
This article was written for MP Talk, a regular column from the Helsinki Times in which Members of The Finnish Parliament contribute their thoughts and opinions. All opinions voiced are entirely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoints of the Helsinki Times.
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